LONDON – Queen Victoria’s name lives on in London’s architecture two hundred years after the birth of the British monarch.
Victoria’s reign, the second longest in British history, began on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution and at the height British Empire.
She was queen of the United Kingdom from 1837 until her death in 1901.
The monarch fostered development in the sciences, transportation and the arts and her name eventually defined a historical era, the Victorian age.
She took the throne at the age of 18 and three years later married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Susie Barson, of Historic England which is responsible for protecting the country’s architectural heritage, told EFE that an area of London has been nicknamed “Albertopolis.”
The area of South Kensington, next to Hyde Park in the capital’s centre, houses the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Royal Albert Hall, which were all built thanks to the patronage of the consort, plus five other museums, a botanical garden, the geographical society and a school of arts.
Barson said that London has “a collection of buildings of national and international importance as a capital city and as the center of the Victorian Empire.”
One of the main characteristics of Victorian architecture is its functionality, everything was built to satisfy some type of need for citizens such as security, health, education, housing or food, according to Historic England.
Another of the particularities of this type of buildings is the internal planning of the spaces, with rooms distributed according to the habits and customs of the time.
For example, theaters and pubs were segregated by areas for people of different classes and, very often, were reserved only for men.
The exterior of the buildings were in the style of the Gothic Renaissance and used materials such as brick, stone or slate which could be transported thanks to the rise of rail networks.
Barson added that it is difficult to imagine the capital without its emblematic Victorian buildings.
Although Victoria spent 40 years in mourning after her beloved husband’s death at the age of 42 in 1861, the legacy of her reign continues in London.
Two new exhibitions are opening on 24 May to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth at Kensington Palace.
The first, titled “Victoria: Woman and Crown,” will explore the late queen’s private life behind her carefully-managed public image.
The second, “Victoria: A Royal Childhood,” will reveal the story of Princess Victoria, a young girl destined to be queen, in the rooms where she was born and raised.
Victoria’s influence on British life went beyond the walls of architecture and lives on in customs, including brides wearing white on their wedding day, tea at five o’clock in the afternoon and the tradition of sending Christmas cards.
Films, biographies, articles and exhibitions will take place, two hundred years after her birth, to celebrate the reign of one of the most remembered queens and an era that marked the course of history.